It was a tradition throughout The Beatles’ time together that Ringo Starr, the group’s drummer, always got his chance to sing one track on each album, and it allowed them to throw caution to the wind. Although, on one occasion, they concluded the creation was too “weird” to see the light of the day.
This unwritten rule wasn’t out of pity for Ringo to make him feel more included, and intriguingly, it was a clever marketing ploy. During the initial wave of Beatlemania, Starr was the unlikely poster boy, and hysteria followed him wherever he went. Therefore, the thinking behind letting him have a song on each album was to take advantage of his rabid fanbase by letting him have his moment in the limelight.
Conspicuously, on Help! there was an absence of Starr on vocals, but that was never their plan. Ringo Starr was always most comfortable behind the drum kit, and songwriting was never his forte. In fact, he only wrote two songs for the group during their entire time together.
Initially, they planned for Ringo to record ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but it ended up as a calamity. Starr later revealed in Anthology: “I recorded a song for the Help! album that was never released – ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’. George Martin found it in the vaults of EMI studios.”
It was a track the band had forgotten existed until Martin discovered it, and it soon became apparent why it had been cast to the wayside. When they listen back at the recording in Anthology, George Harrison brutally said that he had no recollection of ever making it which speaks volumes about the quality of the song. “We’ve just come across (‘If You’ve Got Trouble’). I’ve no recollection of ever recording it,” he admitted.
Harrison’s honesty didn’t stop there, and he added: “It’s the most weird song… It’s got stupid words and is the naffest song. No wonder it didn’t make it onto anything.”
After ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ had been thrown on the scrap heap, Ringo requested The Beatles record a cover of ‘Act Naturally’ by Buck Owens, which didn’t make the cut either. However, it was eventually released as the B-side to ‘Yesterday’.
When they finally released the Lennon-McCartney penned effort on Anthology 2 in 1996, it quickly became apparent why it had been unreleased for three decades.
Although Harrison’s critique of the track feels somewhat hyperbolic, it’s far from the “most weird” song in The Beatles’ catalogue, and on the contrary, it sounds ordinary. However, Harrison didn’t miss when he denounced it as “the naffest”, and it was for the greater good that ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ was placed indefinitely on the back burner.